The Emmys tried to look diverse. But they gave us predictable white winners

TV critic Lorraine Ali on a year in which the Emmys brought familiarity, caution — and a slew of predominantly white winners.

9/20/2021 8:34:00 AM

No performers of color won in any of the comedy, drama or limited series categories at the Emmys , despite some of the strongest contenders in years.

TV critic Lorraine Ali on a year in which the Emmys brought familiarity, caution — and a slew of predominantly white winners.

The disappointment in the room was notable when Tobias Menzies, who plays Prince William in “The Crown,”won over the late Michael K. Williams, a sentimental favorite who died unexpectedly this month. Williams, best known for his indelible role as Omar Little in “The Wire,” had been nominated for an Emmy four times but never had won when he made the cut this year for HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.” Though Menzies was a strong contender, there was a palpable disappointment in the L.A. Live room when Williams and the role that he brought to life — of Montrose Freeman, a gay man in the Jim Crow era — was not recognized.

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Josh O’Connor, who plays a young Prince Charles in “The Crown,” won lead actor in a drama series over Billy Porter in “Pose.” Many handicappers and critics believed Porter stood a good chance to win because of his strong performance in the farewell season of the FX drama.

It’s no wonder voters gravitated toward subjects they knew or fare that was easy to digest. The world has doled out enough drama of the real sort to make us all want “Animal Planet” 24/7, just to watch cute koalas calm our central nervous systems. But the academy also has a job to do, and that’s to elevate the best programming on whatever it deems to be television — streaming, cable or network. Kate Winslet winning the lead acting prize for “Mare of Easttown” is one such well-made decision. headtopics.com

Hopes were high that at least the limited series categories would deliver an interesting upset. After all, “The Crown” and “Ted Lasso” could not prevail there. Limited series contests were considered some of the more exciting and up-for-grabs races headed into the evening, and half of social media seemed to be rooting for Michaela Coel’s powerful and rule-bending “I May Destroy You.”

That British HBO series, which dealt with sexual assault, race and identity, was pitted against the HBO crime procedural “Mare of Easttown,” Amazon’s “The Underground Railroad,” Disney+'s “WandaVision” and Netflix “The Queen’s Gambit.” That last title, a period tale about a female chess player in a man’s world, won. Along with “Mare of Easttown, “Queen’s Gambit” nabbed five out of seven of the limited series categories during the Primetime Emmy broadcast. The sweep marked another loss for stories centered on people of color.

The lack of Black, Latinx and Asian winners was at odds with the lineup of the night’s presenters, who without the awards painted a picture of a diversified Hollywood. Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Angela Bassett, Mindy Kaling and Ken Jeong were among more than a dozen people of color who opened envelopes and called out winners’ names. The ceremony opened with a tribute to the late rapper Biz Markie, who died this year, and music by Run DMC and the Notorious B.I.G. was spun by DJ Reggie Watts as presenters walked on and off camera, and as the show went to commercials. Poor Patrick Stewart looked confused.

The race questions the Emmys inevitably stirred detracted from what was another groundbreaking year for women in television. When Jessica Hobbs of “The Crown” and Lucia Aniello of “Hacks” won, they became the first women to sweep both the comedy and drama directing categories. headtopics.com

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AdvertisementWhat Delta variant? A mixed-bag Emmys tries to party like it was 2019The approach was not inappropriate to a medium whose productions have largely glossed over the pandemic. And it was sometimes fun — if nerve-racking.When double Emmy nominee Jean Smart was named best comedy actress for her role as stand-up Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance in “Hacks,” the 70-year-old became the oldest woman to win the category. (Catherine O’Hara was 66 when she won in 2020 for her role as Moira Rose in “Schitt’s Creek.”) Hollywood’s ageism is finally seeing a challenge.

The three-hour ceremony broadcast live on CBS was anything but business as usual. The event took place at a small L.A. Live venue rather than the Microsoft Theater. Only 500 guests were permitted to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions, compared with several thousand in previous years. The show, helmed by master of ceremonies Cedric the Entertainer, was plagued by production flubs: stagehands walking into shots, missed cues, awkward outros from a DJ more attuned to a Grammy crowd rather than the TV industry.

At least “I May Destroy You”creator-star Coel finally won an Emmy — writing for a limited or anthology series or movie. She may as well have been speaking directly to the voters who chose safety over innovation. She encouraged those in the room as well as future talent to take chances.

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These race baiting headlines are really getting tiresome Maybe we should just stop televising group gatherings in public places so that no one can be 'offended' by what they see. until the add more diverse voters nothing will change Even though Mexican Americans have been here for hundreds of years and their Indigenous ancestors for thousands of years, they are still treated as insignificant and invisible by Hollywood and TV producers!

Stop already. Celebrate the diversity of the nominees and quit trying to stir up controversy. As if people voted because a show was white how divisive and Ridiculous. good We need a best black award That's 21st Century Racist Hollywood For You Racism will thrive as long as the media continues to identify people by the color of their skin.

Where was Cuomo? Woke bullshit covering up the fact that no one was masked. Hypocrites

Cedric the Entertainer eager to celebrate TV with the EmmysBut there's still work to be done behind the scenes to make television better, says the star of 'The Neighborhood' CedEntertainer I’d watch it to see boburnham win his Emmy for his sketch comedy / music show he made during the pandemic lockdown !!!

Back to the regularly scheduled program Ted lasso is a great show and has a diverse cast. Season 2 standouts include the therapist and Sam. No one is watching and no one cares. Cover real news for a change🙄😒 STFU. Nothing is ever good enough for this realm. Enough, already. Old habits are hard to break, total relapse by the TheEmmys ; black folks shutout !

I would rather watch reruns of danieltosh than TheEmmys… this is one huge reason i haven't watched any of these awards shows in years. this is probably also why the shows are SO DAMN BORING. peeps at the top trying to keep themselves from tottering off their supremacy. YAWN. i tried watching lasso a couple times, my lord what a SNOOZE.

The thing is they were up against also extremely strong contenders who didn’t deserve to ‘not’ win because they were white. Weird take! The winners were all extremely talented. Perhaps it would be better if TheEmmys just gave out participation trophies? Then everybody gets to win, no matter what their skin color. Wouldn’t that be special.

What’s on TV This Week: Muhammad Ali, Kenny Rogers, Ariana Grande, the Emmys and moreTV highlights for Sept. 19-25 include the Emmys , a salute to Kenny Rogers and Ken Burns' four-part documentary about boxing legend Muhammad Ali. When I was 18, I was a Vietnam infantry soldier 51 years ago. I asked two black guys in my squad, 'the way Americans mistreat you, black people, why are you here in this mess?' They both said, 'if we had the money Muhammad Ali has, we wouldn't be here either.' Pretty simple!

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